William Hill Estate: Napa Valley Bench Blend Chardonnay. Wine On Line Rating: A Major

William Hill Estate : Napa Valley William Hill Estate : Napa Valley

Wine On Line Rating: A Major

2007 Bench Blend Chardonnay







2007 Bench Blend Chardonnay

Astounding example of what California CAN do with this so often maligned grape. Exquisite elegance, finesse, balance, subtle fruit and what a finish. Lovely with anything, from Pea Soup to Sausage to Salmon to Triple Crème Cheese or solo. A Personal favorite.


Varietal Origin: Napa Valley: 100% Weimer Clone from Carneros
Titratable Acidity: 0.56 g/100ml
pH: 3.35
Residual Sugar: 0.55 g/100ml
Alcohol Level: 14.2%
Harvest Dates: September 12, 2008

Wine Tasting Notes

The 2007 Reserve Chardonnay is creamy and complex displaying intense fruit aromas and flavors of white peach and ripe pear. The stone fruit combine with toasty oak, vanilla and coconut notes that extend through the rich, lingering finish.

Viticulture Notes

A dry winter and warm, dry spring initiated an early start to the 2007 growing season. The weather remained fairly mild through the harvest months with the only heat spike occurring in early September. Temperatures cooled throughout the remainder of September which slowed the ripening of certain varietals and set a good pace for the rest of harvest. This allowed winemakers to focus on bringing in and crushing one variety at a time. Many wineries waited until the very end of harvest to pick some of the later-ripening varieties, and were rewarded with a very high quality crop. Overall, the 2007 crop was much smaller and produced lower alcohol levels in the wines than in 2005 and 2006, but quality is exceptional.

Winemaker Notes

The Chardonnay grapes were hand harvested at night and then gently pressed as whole clusters prior to fermentation to maintain varietal aromas and flavors. The must was inoculated with the QA 23 yeast strain to initiate primary fermentation. Grape solids were left in the fermenting juice to add complexity and style. After primary fermentation was complete, the wine underwent malolactic fermentation in barrel in order to enrich the mouthfeel and further add complexity to the finished wine. The Chardonnay wine was aged in new and one-year old French oak barrels. The wine was filtered and fined and bottle aged 6 months prior to release

            Wine On Line Rating: A Major


Copyright 2011http://www.culinarygourmet.com/disclosure By Nancy Walman Copyright 2010 By Punch In International. All Rights Reserved Disclosure By Punch In International. All Rights Reserved Disclosure


eric and barbara  

Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano, the popular husband-and-wife team equally at home in the worlds of pop and jazz, will debut their new show,
”Helluva Town: A New York Soundtrack,” from January 4th to 15th during their annual sojourn in the legendary Algonquin Oak Room Supper Club. The duo will celebrate the love/hate affair most New Yorkers have with their city through the songs of Leonard Bernstein, Rodgers & Hart, Comden & Green, Strouse & Adams, Coleman & Leigh, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell and other explorers of the Big Apple in good times and bad. Among their selections are “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Comes Once in a Lifetime,” “My Time of Day,” “Lucky to be Me” and “How About You?”

If the mantra of real estate is location, location, location cabaret’s shadow image must be material, material, material. And that is why this duo has blossomed, since our last viewing, into a first rate act that deserves your patronage. Ms. Fasano’s voice has lost the edge it previously had and blends, rather than competes, with Mr. Comstock’s smooth, reedy baritone. His piano, always excellent, is enhanced by the terrific bassist, Sean Smith. Avoiding clichés and the too many obscure show tune trap. the team manages to tease (just offering hint of  “LULLABY OF BROADWAY” in an arrangement with “TWO SLEEPY PEOPLE”),  tempt, with a dynamite version of COME BACK TO ME” (Burton Lane, Alan Jay Lerner) by Fasano and tear one’s emotions, with a heart rendering interpretation of “MY TIME OF DAY” (Frank Loesser) by Comstock.  “THE HAMPTONS” (Jim Lowe) will delight any professional New Yorker, with a desire to show off. But again, that’s material or should we say: material, material, material. 

Shows are Tuesday through Thursday at 8:30 and Friday and Saturday at 8:30 and 11. There is a $50 cover charge plus either a $30 food and beverage minimum or a $60 prix fixe dinner. Reservations: bmcgurn@algonquinhotel.com or 212 419 9331.

Winners of the 2010 Nightlife Award as Outstanding Cabaret Duo, Eric and Barbara last appeared in the Oak Room in February with their highly praised show, “This Thing Called Love,” of which Rex Reed observed, “If love is a wave, they are riding the crest of it.” Though they’ve been compared to Nick and Nora, Fred and Ginger and Lunt and Fontanne, Comstock and Fasano’s unique blend of wit and sensuality is all their own. They’ve performed at Carnegie Hall, Feinstein’s, The Carlyle and Birdland, and have headlined at Caramoor, Cooperstown Music Festival, Guild Hall in East Hampton, St. Louis, Philadelphia and Palm Beach. Eric Comstock created and contributed his masterful piano and vocals to the hit revues “Singing Astaire,” “Made for the Movies” and “Our Sinatra” (which debuted in the Oak Room and played 1300 performances off-Broadway). His new CD, “bitter/sweet” debuts this month, joining previous releases “Young Man of Manhattan” and “All Hart.” A multi-award winner from Manhattan Association of Cabarets, Barbara Fasano has appeared in musical theatre productions of Wonderful Town, Grease and Side by Side by Sondheim. She won a Back Stage Bistro Award Record of the Year for “Written in the Stars,”a Harold Arlen songbook, and another for “The Girls of Summer,” featuring songs from Springsteen to Sondheim. She will release “Roundabout,” based on her one-woman show, later this year.


Copyright 2010 By Punch In International. All Rights Reserved

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Ring in the New Year with The Flex Crew

at Either of Our Locations

154 West 13th Street, NYC * Reservations 212.229.0222

or 174 East 82nd Street, NYC * Reservations 212.717.7772

December 31st, 2010

11 PM – 1 AM


Open "Top Shelf" Bar

Flex Finger Foods

Mini-Sweets by Our Star Pastry Chef, Zac Young

Champagne Toast

Noisemakers, Hats and All that Good Stuff…

$68 per person (includes tax)

$58 per person (includes tax), if you joined us for dinner prior to The Flex Party


Two-city New Year’s Eve event from Kellari Restaurant Group

Two-city New Year’s Eve event from Kellari Restaurant Group.


~ Four-course prix fixe Greek menu ($75/person)

~ Live Greek music starting at 9:00 p.m.

~ Champagne special (Washington, D.C. location only; $35/bottle Paul Louis, Brut, Blanc de Blancs, “Vin Mousseux,” France N.V.)

~ Live ball dropping coverage

~ FREE champagne toast at midnight!

Visit Kellari websites/call for New Year’s Eve cocktail specials, menus & reservations:

Kellari Taverna in Midtown

19 West 44th St. between 5th and 6th Avenue



Kellari Parea Bistro in Gramercy

36 East 20th St. between Broadway & Park Avenue



Kellari Washington, D.C.

1700 K Street NW between 17th and 18th St. NW



The Kellari Hospitality Group has served upscale Mediterranean seafood in New York City since 2005 and Washington, D.C. since 2007. Kellari Restaurants are known for their authentic, quality ingredients and genuine hospitality. A proud recipient of the Wine Spectator Excellence Award, Kellari has the largest Greek wine list in both Manhattan and Washington, D.C.

Celebrate New Year’s Eve On The East Coast

Celebrate New Year’s Eve in New York City

Friday, December 31, 2010

WHAT:                 Indulge in New Year’s Eve at MODA Restaurant

WHERE:                                               Flatotel

135 West 52nd Street

                                                                New York, NY

(212) 887-9880


INCLUDES:                                         Prix Fixe Three Course Meal

Complimentary Round of Champagne included with Dinner

MENU: Featured Appetizers include:

· Spicy Sausage with Polenta Cake and Red Pepper Sauce

· Cherry Tomato & Tortellini Salad with Fresh Basil

Featured Entrées include:

· Lobster & Shrimp with Sherry Cream Sauce

· Angus Prime Rib with Gravy & Creamy Horseradish

Featured Desserts include:

· Homemade Chocolate Torte with Whipped Cream & Berries

· Caramel Cheesecake with Whipped Cream & Berries

TIME:                                                    5:00 PM to 10:00 PM

(reservations required)

COST:                                                   $89 per person

$45 for children ages 10 and under

(price does not include tax & gratuity / 18% service charge will be automatically added to parties of 6 or more)

HOTEL RATES:                                 Room rates from $425 per night over the New Year’s Holiday

(room rates are based on availability)


WHAT:                                                 Ring In the New Year 2011 at Hotel Chantelle with Stars from HBO’s Hit Show Boardwalk Empire

WHERE:                                               92 Ludlow Street

                                                                (between Delancey & Broome Streets)

New York, NY

(212) 254-9100


INCLUDES:                                         Themed 1920s fête

Open Bar and Mini-Buffet

Live Performance by a World-Renowned DJ

General Admission

· 5 Hour Premium Open Bar

· Midnight Champagne Toast

· World-Renowned DJ

· Live DJ 2011 NYE Countdown

· Festive NYE Party Favors

Seated VIP

· All General Admission Benefits

· Each Seated VIP Ticket Holders shall have a Reserved Seat for the Entire Event

· VIP Priority Admission by Separate VIP Line

Ultra VIP

· All Seated VIP Benefits

· Bottle Service and Mixers at Table (quantity depends on group size) with Servers who will be Available to Assist upon Request for Additional Drinks (Bottle Service Gratuity is a Mandatory Charge Paid to the Venue on the Night of the Event- it is not included in the ticket price).

· VIP Priority Admission by Separate VIP Line

Platinum VIP

· All Ultra VIP Benefits with Additional Bottles

· After 12:30 Admission

· Includes Entry to the Venue Starting at 12:30 a.m.

· World-Renowned DJ

TIME:                                                    8:00PM to 4:00AM

Mini-Buffet 9:00PM to 11:30PM

Open Bar 9:00PM to 2:00AM

COST:                                                   General Admission / $85 per person

Seated VIP / $135 per person

Ultra VIP / $155 per person

Platinum VIP / $175 per person

After 12:30 Admission / $30 per person


Saturday January 1, 2011

WHAT: Hangover Brunch at Penthouse808 at Ravel Hotel

WHERE:                                               The Ravel Hotel

8-08 Queens Plaza South

                                                                Long Island City, NY

                                                                (718) 289-6101


INCLUDES:                                         Hangover Brunch

New Year’s Day Dinner

MENU:                                                 Regular á la carte offerings and pre-fixed dishes served with a few traditional holiday specials

TIME:                                                    Hangover Brunch NOON to 4:00PM

Dinner 5:00PM to 10:00PM


Celebrate New Year’s Eve in the Hamptons

Friday, December 31, 2010

what:                                                   New Year’s Eve Gala Hamptons Style Southampton Inn with Seasons of Southampton

WHERE: Southampton Inn

91 Hill Street

                                                                Southampton, NY

                                                                (800) 832-6500 / (631) 283-6500


INCLUDES: For guests seeking a great deal for a New Year’s getaway, an overnight stay at the Southampton Inn will include a welcome reception in the library; and a decadent five-course meal, open bar, champagne toast, music, dancing, at Seasons of Southampton. New Year’s Day, enjoy an elaborate breakfast buffet at the Southampton Inn and late check-out (2:00PM). Not just for couples, the getaway is perfect for any friends or family escape!

4:0PM to 6:00PM:  Welcome Reception in the Library at the Southampton Inn.  Beer, wine and light snacks will be served.

8:30 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.:  A Five Course Dinner with Full Premium Open Bar at Seasons of Southampton includes:

· Polar Ice Lounge with Ice Bars and Luges

· Dancing with a DJ on a huge dance floor and special lighting.

· Plasma TVs throughout showing the dropping of the ball.

· Champagne Toast at Midnight

· Beautiful Décor and Fun Props

Transportation to-and-from the Southampton Inn and Seasons of Southampton will be provided throughout the evening.

ABOUT SOUTHAMPTON INN:   Southampton Inn has 90 uniquely decorated guest rooms each outfitted with Tempur Pedic® mattresses.  The Inn features a library with fireplace and festive music and a game room with toys and activities for the children.  Southampton Inn is also pet-friendly (only 14 of the 90 guestrooms apply with additional fee per pet). 

Southampton Inn accepts AAA, AARP and other discounts during the winter months (check with front desk for more information). The location is under two hours from New York City which is accessible through the Hampton Jitney, LIRR, and Hampton Luxury Liner.  It is also within walking distance of charming Southampton Village.

COST:   New Year’s Eve Package

$440 per couple for the overnight package (plus tax and gratuity for all)

$159 for additional room night added to package

$199 for the overnight room rate for New Year’s Eve, without party


WHAT:                                                 Ring In New Year’s Eve at 75 Main

WHERE:                                               75 Main Street

                                                                Southampton, NY

                                                                (631) 283-7575


INCLUDES:                                         A Prix Fixe Four Course Meal and Dancing

Live Music All Night with Six Different DJs

Three Different Packages to Choose From:

Package 1:

Food Access Pass, including a Fixed Four Course Meal

Package 2:

Night Club Access Pass, including Open Bar with Premium Top-Shelf Liquor

Package 3:

Food and Night Club Access Pass, including a Fixed Four Course Meal with Open Bar with Premium Top-Shelf Liquor

TIME:                                                    9:30PM to 4:00AM

· First Dinner Sitting / 4:30PM to 6:30PM

· Second Dinner Sitting / 6:30PM to 8:30PM

· Third Dinner Sitting / 8:30PM to 11:00PM

COST:                   Package 1 / $49 per person

Package 2 / $75 per person

Package 3 / $100 per person


Celebrate New Year’s Eve in South Beach

Friday, December 31, 2010

WHAT:                                                 Celebrate the New Year with Actress Sasha Grey at The Catalina Hotel & Beach Club

WHERE:                                               1732 Collins Avenue

Miami Beach, FL

(877) 762-3477


HOSTED BY:                                      Actress Sasha Grey

PERFORMANCE BY:       The Spam All Star

INCLUDES: General Admission: Lavish Dinner and Live New Year’s Eve 2011 countdown. All inclusive access to each of the hotel’s 3 buildings, open bar, endless food and live music all night

Open Bar: Vodka ice luge and specialty cocktails

Endless Food Stations: Three separate delicious dinner food stations, gourmet sushi, and decadent desserts.

Live Music: The buildings will each feature a line-up with their own musical acts including the sounds of The Spam All Stars on the front terrace of The Catalina’s Maxine’s Bar & Bistro, the best of old school hip hop at Kung Fu Kitchen & Sushi and ‘80s groove in the red bar.

Guests can lounge indoors at any of the hotel’s three bars or outside on one of the hotels two terraces, which include a newly renovated rooftop pool & bar or the bamboo pool lounge.

VIP: Rooftop cabana for up to 6 guests with an all access pass to all open bars and lavish dinner buffet; includes one bottle of premium AVION Tequila and a bottle of champagne.

ITEMS OF INTEREST:                     At midnight, there will be a complimentary champagne toast as Sasha Grey rings in the New Year with guests.  Grey will then give a special performance as she demonstrates her turntable skills at The Maxine’s.

TIME:                                                    Open bar from 8:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.

                                                                Doors not closing until 7:00 a.m., January 1, 2011

COST:                                                   General Admission / $95.00

VIP / $900.0


December 22, 2010 to January 5, 2011

WHAT:                                                 South Beach Group Offers Holiday Prices

WHERE: Various Locations
Miami Beach, FL

(877) 762-3477


HOTELS: Hotel Shelley

The South Beach Group story started in 1997 with Hotel Shelley, which married comfort and style with affordability. The unpretentious atmosphere with lush lounge chairs, nightly open bar, verdant verandah, and quick walk to the beach made Hotel Shelley quickly popular. Those looking for luxury amenities found what they were looking for as well, with ultra-cozy beds in all rooms and in-room Jacuzzi’s included in their King Suites.

844 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL
(305) 531-3341

Metropole Hotel

The chic Metropole Hotel is getting the most attention lately, as the host of MTV’s hit show Jersey Shore: Miami.  The cool condo-style one and two bedroom suites invite guests to feel at home without taking them away from the excitement of the South Beach experience. The tropical courtyard lets guests soak up the sun with privacy, and the Kohler® rain showers in their marble bathrooms allow guests to refresh after a long day at the beach.

635 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL
(305) 672-0009

Whitelaw Hotel & Lounge

The Whitelaw Hotel & Lounge received the “Best Architectural Rehab” award for its white furniture and pink walls complete with hand-painted artwork. Add to that the inclusive perks of a free daily airport shuttle, beach towels and club passes, and it’s no wonder that the Whitelaw Hotel was welcomed into the South Beach Group family.

808 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL
(305) 398-7000

The Catalina

The Catalina is unique in that each room fits the mood of a specific traveler. Those with agoraphobia, a low budget, or the urge to feel like a Rock Star will all feel at home here. The Catalina also has rooms for those who don’t want to skimp on comfort, need an “El Grande” amount of space, or just needing somewhere quiet to work while on a business trip.

1732-1756 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL

(305) 674-1160

The Chesterfield Hotel & Suites

Known as the South Beach Group’s wild and trendy haunt, The Chesterfield Hotel fuses with the quaint and charming The Lily-Leon to provide any guest with a decadent getaway that offers complete privacy.  The spa, outdoor lounges, and discreet indoor “Love Shack” bar mix the best of both worlds, allowing the traveler to feel wild and discreet at the same time.

855 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL
(305) 531-5831

Sunbrite Apartments

For those who wish to extend a stay in South Beach, the apartment-style accommodations at the Sunbrite Apartments properties were designed with you in mind. The rooms can be rented monthly, and they give you every reason to extend your stay. Their contemporary design accented in warm cream colors and dark wood is sure to put your mind instantly at ease. The studio or one-bedroom loft-like quarters are each equipped with a fully functional gourmet kitchen and top of the line appliances so guests can leave all of their worries behind.

1330 Washington Avenue
Miami Beach, FL
(305) 532-7025

Riviera South Beach

The Riviera melds the classic sophistication of the 1940s and contemporary chic for a luxurious escape. The rooms are more than just eye-candy, with amazing amenities to please even the most discerning traveler. Pillow top custom beds made from 100% organic cotton, terry cloth robes, floor to ceiling silk draperies, and custom designed wood and ivory tufted leather furniture all promise to pamper. Gourmet kitchens, separate living and dining areas and oversize bathrooms make this boutique hideaway extremely relaxing, no matter how hard you party at the famous nightclubs located nearby.

2000 Liberty Avenue
Miami Beach, FL
(305) 538-7444

Tradewinds Hotel Apartment

The Tradewinds Apartment & Hotel, the newest addition to the South Beach Group, draws from the best Miami Beach hotels to create a haven of relaxation and ultimate comfort amidst the daytime sunshine and nightlife glamour. These amazingly, fully furnished luxury accommodations offer immaculate design and the ultimate beach location. Designed for the long term traveler in mind, Tradewinds feature 160 luxuriously appointed one-bedroom and studio suites anxiously waiting to be your next home-away-from-home.

2365 Pinetree Drive

Miami Beach, FL

(305) 531-6795

OFFER:                                                 10% off all already reduced priced hotels; includes a room type upgrade

Available to book online / 10% off lowest rate

Promotion Code: “INSIDER


WHAT:                                                 Ring In the New Year 2011 at Hotel Chantelle inspired by HBO’s Hit Show Boardwalk Empire

WHERE:                                               92 Ludlow Street

                                                                (between Delancey & Broome Streets)

New York, NY

(212) 254-9100


INCLUDES:                                         Themed 1920s fête

Live Performance by World-Renowned DJs

Reserved Tables Available

· Includes 2 Bottles

· For up-to-12 guests

TIME:                                                    8:00PM to 4:00AM

COST:                                                   General Admission / $25 per person

Reserved Table / $400

Alamos Chardonnay

The Alamos Chardonnay 2007 has a light yellow color with green hues. The nose offers light tropical fruit aromas with ripe citrus and floral notes. The mouthfeel is rich, with concentrated apple and pear flavors laced with subtle vanilla and sweet spice from light oak aging. The finish is clean and fresh with bright, crisp acidity / pH.

Buttery, full of elegant flavor; perfect with salmon or goat cheese. You will love it!

A Major

100% Chardonnay


60% Tupungato, 20% Tunuyán, 20% Agrelo

Selected yeast, max temp. ferm. 18°C,  45 days.

5 months in 100% French Oak.

Available in 375 ml



Copyright 2010 By Punch In International. All Rights Reserved Disclosure

Casabe Bistro Latino

casabe int1

Casabe Bistro Latino

ADDRESS: 208 E 58 St.

PHONE: (212) 750-7766

LOCATION HISTORY: Previously Nino’s 208

OPENED FOR DINNER: October 19, 2010

Manager: Richard Huguenot

Sous Chef  Lenis Gonzalez

OWNER: Nino Selimaj nino

BACKGROUND: Known primarily by his first name, which lends itself to Nino’s family of popular Italian restaurants, Selimaj makes his first venture into Latin American cuisine with Casabe Bistro Latino, marking a new partnership with notable Latin chef Ricardo Cardona. His career started upon his arrival to New York City as a young boy, whereupon he took a job as a dishwasher at a restaurant on East 58th, the same street he returns to with this new concept. After working his way up the ladder and opening the first Nino’s on First Avenue, he has developed expertise as a seasoned restaurateur, his portfolio now boasts such successes as Nino’s Positano, Osso Buco, 208 and Nino’s Tuscany.

CONCEPT: A Latin Bistro, Casabe (pronounced ca-sah-beh) is named for a traditional yucca-based bread commonly eaten in Colombia, the Caribbean,South America. and the Dominican Republic. The restaurant will use the bread as a base for many of its signature dishes, and the menu as a whole will emphasize refined Latin American comforts. Rather than focusing on any one geographic lens, the menu will blend the flavors and traditions of all Latin American countries with modern and unique presentations. Ambiance will be lively, with salsa music, a Mojito lounge on the second floor, and live entertainment one night a week.

This Spanish, Caribbean and South American Menu features Nouveau Latin cuisine with dishes like Churrascos, Ceviches, Arepas, Paella and Tacos. The Mojito Bar Lounge offers live latin music and a selection of specialty drinks

CONSULTING CHEF: Ricardo Cardona

BACKGROUND: Chef Ricardo Cardona is a self-trained chef with over twenty five years experience in creating cutting edge Nuevo Latino cuisine. He is most well known for his use of unique ingredients that dig deep into the heart of the Latin culture while making surprising, unexpected choices that are delivered with gourmet flair. Chef Cardona has helmed such popular restaurants as New York’s Hudson Terrace, Mama Juana NY, Sofrito, 809, Tabaco y Ron and Sazon, as well as his own recent project, Gabbana.  His cuisine regularly serves such luminaries as singer Marc Anthony and wife, Jennifer Lopez; the members of the New York Yankees baseball team and New York Knicks basketball team; actor Andy Garcia; boxer Oscar de la Hoya; designer Oscar de la Renta; singer Julio Iglesias; and guests at the Premo Nuestro Awards, among many others.

PRICE POINT: Under $25

SIGNATURE DISHES: Cazuelita de Bacalao Guizado with Sweet Plantain Fufu, Salmon con Casabe (Casabe crusted salmon), Free Form Chipotle Ravioli with Rioja Braised Short Ribs, Arroz con Pollo.

WINES AND COCKTAILS: The wine list will focus on American, South American, and Spanish bottles at an affordable price point; cocktails will be designed by Mamjuana mixologist Roger Gonzeles, whose focus will be on balancing the sweetness of tropical Latin fruits with traditional South American spirits and wines. A Mojito bar on the second floor will feature a Mojito bar inspired by seasonal flavors.

AVAILABILITY FOR PRIVATE PARTIES: The second floor will be available for private events, as well as off- and in-premise catering.

TAKEOUT AND DELIVERY: Both will be available

HOURS: Lunch 11:45 AM – 3PM 7 days a week; Dinner 5 – 12PM Monday through Thursday, 5PM – 1AM Friday through Saturday, and 5 – 10PM on Sunday. Brunch will be introduced shortly after opening.

TOTAL CAPACITY:  70 seats downstairs, and another 50 on the 2nd floor, including seats at the Mojito bar.

CREDIT CARDS ACCEPTED: All major Credit Cards

It’s no surprise that, in an effort to unite the myriad flavors of South America and the Caribbean, chef Ricardo Cardona and owner Nino Selimaj chose cassava as their fugue—an ingredient to come back to over and over again, to reveal its multifaceted permutations, and even inspire the very name of their first joint venture: Casabe Bistro Latino. After all, it’s the cornerstone of nary every Latin comfort food—an under-glorified ingredient due its star turn in the increasingly chic world of Nuevo Latino flavors. Named for the traditional yucca-based breads commonly eaten in Colombia and the Dominican Republic, Casabe is Cardona and Selimaj’s ode to refined Latin comforts and traditions—a lively spot where the food and the music exude a festive environment worth coming back to. casaba int main

            Housed in the same space that once held Nino’s 208, Casabe is very proudly the sum of its esteemed parts. A prominent fixture of the Manhattan restaurant scene, owner Nino Selimaj humbly started his career as a dishwasher in a small eatery on East 58th Street—it’s the same street he fatefully finds himself returning to today, after developing a successful portfolio of much-cherished Italian gems like Nino’s Positano, Osso Buco, and Nino’s Tuscany. Assisting him with his first foray into Latin American cuisine is Chef Ricardo Cardona (Sazon, Sofrito, Mama Juana NY), whose twenty-five years of experience developing Manhattan’s Nuevo Latino scene have led him to this, his latest venture. Together, the duo bring their personality into each aspect of the restaurant’s execution, from food to ambiance to décor.casabe int2


The bi-level interior by Nick Grande offers an elegant bistro feel with a Latino flair, the space features a vibrant color palette with green and yellow hues, a tiled floor, and chic banquettes. Overall, the atmosphere can be best described as “modern with a tropical kiss.” There is a wonderful working fireplace, an elevated level by the window with a view of passersby and comfortable booths and tables.

It only takes a few steps into the restaurant to understand you’re in for a fun ride: from the salsa and bossa nova overhead to the warm Latin reception, the tone is set for an evening filled with sabor. Open your appetite with an artfully concocted drink at the Mojito bar upstairs—the Coco New York (Ciroc coco, Godiva white and crème de cacao) or the Yerbabuena (Red Peach Bacardi, Strawberry-kumquat puree, mint and lime) have proven to be early favorites. Then make your way towards the main dining room—where the show really begins.casabe drink1

            The menu revolves around refined Latin comforts, incorporating the diverse flavors of Latin America: the Caribbean, Colombia, Argentina, Peru and Mexico all play major roles. Riffing off dishes that he’s custom created for the likes of Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, the Yankees, and Oscar de la Renta, Cardona bridges authentic flavors with a modern sensibility.

            Start with an upscale twist on tacquitos, or veer towards the Argentinean inspired empanadas, with fusion flavors like pork and sweet plantain or eggplant and goat cheese. Cuban Tamales get a similar haute treatment as the Tamalito con Langosta, served here with a lobster enchilado filling and topped with garlic and lime crema, sweet pepper, sofrito, and truffle oil. Call it umami or dub it delicioso—it’s a must-try no matter the language.

Equally successful are the Arepas, or sweet corn cakes, which bridge distinct Colombian and Jewish flavors (surprising to many, the two do overlap in many communities) when topped with smoked salmon, goat cheese, caramelized onions and fresh caper berries. And for its grand appearance towards the start of the meal, cassava makes a thick, sweet crust for the Camarones en Yuca: tall, towering tails of wrapped-up shrimp set atop a smooth passionfruit chili sauce.

Ceviches carry a singular ability to drive away the winter woes, especially with the tropical fruit flavors they incorporate. Tuna, for instance, gets “cooked” up in a Chipotle Pineapple Mojo, while Salmon is marinated in Aguachile, a reduction made with boiled serranos and jalapenos. Shrimp ceviche is made Ecuadorian style, with spicy fire roasted tomatoes and a shout of orange. Across the board, Cardona says, traditional flavors are “New Yorkified”—a process that both tames down excessive heat and plays up the sophistication quotient.

Cazuelitas are the perfect foray into the kitchen’s most substantial flavors—in Latin tradition, the cast iron skillets are both the cooking and serving vessel. Here, they’re filled with Filet Mignon cooked with red wine and cabrales, a strong Spanish blue cheese, or more casually, crab and spinach queso fundido, to be scooped up with an array of homemade malanga, yuca and plantain chips.casabe steak2

             But of course, it’s the entrees that drive home the joy and comfort of good Latin cooking. Bistec Latino, a beef paillard topped with balsamic and onion escabeche, will strike any Spanish speaker as reminiscent of home—kicked up a notch. With its accompaniments of sweet plantains, avocado, rice and beans, it’s the perfect example of Latin food done right. Salmon gets encrusted in yuca—and served atop a yuca manchego mash. With a dash of Coconut Creole sauce to invigorate familiar flavors, it’s a surprise twist to keep returning to. Perhaps the chef’s favorite dish, Cordero, yields a criss-crossed quartet of Frenched lamb chops, perfectly seared and served atop a colorful bean stew: a balance of indulgence and comfort.casabe steak

             A word to the wise: Save room for dessert. Turning savory ingredients into sweet superstars is a talent of the Casabe kitchen, where plantains become spongy bread pudding with caramelized chunks of freshly braised fruit, all topped with vanilla ice cream and a syrupy plantain sauce. It’s not unlike the more familiar banana variety—a pleasant surprise that makes sense, after all. Traditionalists may prefer the chocolate molten cake, enhanced here with cajeta—a condensed milk syrup—and chipotle. And for its final chorus, close the meal with just a little more cassava—this time in its sweet, ground form, so much more commonly known as tapioca. A Pina Colada inspired treat, the pearls are layered with fresh pineapple and shaved coconut like a bubble-based martini.

Casabe Bistro Latino is located at 208 E 58 Street in Midtown East, and is open for dinner Monday through Thursday from 5PM to 11PM, Friday and Saturday from 5PM to 12AM, and Sunday from 5PM to 10PM.  Casabe is also open on weekdays for lunch from 12PM to 3PM. Brunch will launch in December. For reservations, please call (212) 750-7766 or visit www.casabeny.com

Copyright 2010 By PunchIn International. All Rights Reserved.


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Times Square Bash

From a gala dinner in the heart of Times Square with front row seats to the ball drop to a rooftop revel overlooking the lights of the city or a multi-course gastronomic feast with friends, these New Year’s Eve events cover all of the bases at a wide range of prices, $45 to $750 per person.

At the center of it all the Crowne Plaza Times Square on Broadway will present an intimate 100-person bash with all the trimmings – five-course feast, traditional NYE paraphernalia, open bar and dancing – at Brasserie 1605, which overlooks all the action below through walls of windows. To start the evening, guests will dine on an amuse of Butternut Squash and Foie Gras Bisque followed by a choice of appetizer, such as Grilled Diver Scallops with Maine Crab, Blackened Pear Tomatoes and a Brown Butter Vinaigrette. A refreshing sorbet intermezzo will cleanse the palate before it is seduced by Grilled Rosemary Scented Bone-In Filet, Chilean Sea Bass with Cuttlefish Ink Risotto or Seared Duck Breast and Foie Gras Medallions.  As midnight approaches, guests will migrate to a special sidewalk viewing area just in front of the hotel to witness the ball drop.  $250 per person at 1605 Broadway, between 48th and 49th Streets. For information and reservations, call 212.315.6000.

Rooftop Reveling:

For an equally memorable evening, if in a considerably less intimate setting, 230 FIFTH, New York’s largest rooftop bar, in the historic Flatiron District   will take New Year’s to new heights from its 25,000 square feet of rooftop garden and indoor penthouse lounge with sweeping 360-degree views of the city.  230 FIFTH’s “Glamorous and Sexy” New Year’s Eve Celebration offers a variety of packages to ring in the New Year, starting at $150 per person for top shelf open bar and hors d’oeuvres. Table seating ranges from $200 to $750 per person, depending on the size of the party, location of the table and the bottles of Champagne and / or premium liquor included.  All table packages feature the premium open bar and hors d’oeuvre, as well as plentiful platters of 230 FIFTH’s signature Malaysian cuisine.

230 FIFTH celebrants can trip the light fantastic on one of two dance floors, each with its own DJ spinning non-stop dance, rock, Top 40 and classic 80’s music. And they can don complimentary oversized red hooded robes to revel in the crisp winter air on the rooftop warmed by 100 high-powered heaters.  If the robes and heaters (voluminous blankets too) aren’t enough, an intriguing list of steaming hot cocktails served in massive 18-ounce hand-warming mugs will be available. At midnight, a Champagne toast will accompany the broadcast of the countdown in Times Square from giant flat screens placed strategically throughout 230 FIFTH.   Fifth Avenue at 27th Street. Call 212.246.1000.

Sophisticated Soiree:

At the other end of the party spectrum is the urbane New Year’s outing provided by Fiorini, described by Zagat as a “one of midtown’s few well kept secrets.”  Redolent of old world charm and gracious hospitality, it reflects hallmark style of veteran restaurateur Lello Arpaia (dad to Food Network personality, restaurateur, chef and cookbook author Donatella) one of the last of the great owner/operator/hosts who once defined New York’s restaurant scene.  Exquisitely decorated for the holidays, it will be a festive setting in which to greet 2011 with a Champagne toast after savoring a four-course Italian festa sensibly priced at $82.

The meal will showcase such tasty treats as pasta tasting  – spinach gnocchi in four cheese sauce, cavetelli with pesto and ravioli stuffed with roasted vegetables and mushroom ragu – and main course options including, filet mignon, black truffles and Barolo red wine sauce. Celebrants will be issued all the requisite NYE accoutrements – hats, noise makers, etc. – and a DJ will assure a merry atmosphere, one made all the more so by Fiorini’s Holiday Drink Specials, captivating 7 ounce cocktails such as the Ginger, Beefeater Gin, homemade lemon-ginger simple syrup, fresh mint, garnished with fresh candied ginger for just $7! For reservations at Fiorini, 206 E. 56th between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, call 212-308-0830.

Casual Value:

Petite Abeille the popular Belgian boite will greet the new year at all four of its Manhattan locations with a festive three-course menu at just $45 for: Chicken Liver and Foie Gras Parfait, Melba Toast; Roasted Guinea Hen Braised Leg and Potato Rosti, Truffled Natural Jus; and  Pear Frangipane Tart.  The value quotient is further enhanced by a complimentary cocktail and tasty amuses bouches treats.  And it goes through the roof with the availability of the regular a la carte menu, so that there can be merry-making over Petite Abeille’s two pounds of mussels in a variety of tempting preparations served with Belgian fries for $19 or the restaurant’s celebrated $13.95 hamburgers, also accompanied by fries.   Whatever the culinary choice, the city’s most extensive selection of Belgian beers will provide plenty of bubbly, in addition to the wine list’s sparklers.

At the 401 E. 20th Street location, another dimension will be added to the festivities courtesy of rocking live musicality of Soul of Anubis, a five piece ban d featuring the guitar playing talents of Pascal Jadot, son of owner Yves Jadot. .  The other Petite Abeilles buzz at 466 Hudson Street, 44 West 17th and 134 West Broadway, which can be reached via 212-741-6479, 212-727-2989 and 212-791-1360.   For reservations at 20th Street, call 212-727-1505. 

Jazzy Celebration:

Pera Mediterranean Brasserie will address a broad range of celebration styles, appetites, dietary preferences and price points on December 31st, all presented with the infectious, swinging sound of the Lapis Luna Jazz Band.

For a casual welcome of 2011, guests can linger in Pera’s stylish bar and lounge sipping the special Champagne cocktails that will be served all night long for just $10 and / or dine on  dishes from a condensed version of Pera’s a la carte menu – including 14 intriguing mezes such as Turkish smoked lamb tacos at $6 to $13.  Another option is $65 three-course fixed price menu which will be served  in the dining room prior to 9 p.m. and throughout the evening in the bar / lounge.  It will feature offerings, featuring such dishes as Seafood Crostini Trio, Grilled Octopus, Raki Lobster Ceviche, Sea Urchin and Homemade Gnocchi with Oxtail Ragout and Pan-Fried Chicken Liver as two of the four appetizer choices. Among the four entrée options:  Mediterranean Mixed Grill Platter with a selection of Pera’s signature specialty meat preparations including Lamb Adana, Skirt Steak, Chicken Brochette and Lamb Riblets and Grilled Dover Sole, Tomato Lemon Confit, Fresh Herbs and Fresh Lemon Spritz.

For a splashier culinary experience, the 9:30 seating in the dining room will present two five-course menus, one for carnivores and one for vegetarians, $140 and $110 respectively.  Both will begin with a cheese centric presentation for the table, complemented by meats or vegetables and will conclude with Tangerine Creme Brulee, Chocolate Nirvana or an Assortment of Sorbets.

In between the vegetarian menu will present: Gigante Bean Salad, Giant White Beans, Goat Cheese, Zucchini and Winter Truffle; Turkish Yoghurt Soup with Smoked Tomato Phyllo Rolls and Mushroom Pappardelle with Seasonal Mushrooms Baby Rocket Pesto and Parmigiano.  Meat mavens will also be able to opt for the salad or the seafood crostini detailed above as appetizers.  Ditto the soup as a “prelude to the main course” or homemade gnocchi with oxtail ragout and pan-fried chicken liver.  And for the main event, the $65 menu’s Mediterranean Mixed Grill and the Dover sole will be available, as well as Veal Osso Buco, Classic Gremolata Garnish, Ratatouille and Feta Lasagna. Pera is located at 303 Madison Avenue, between 41st and 42nd Streets, and reservations can be made by calling 212-878-6301.


Copyright 2010 By Punch In International. All Rights Reserved Disclosure